Peppermint is an ancient herb that has its origins in Europe. It is a naturally created hybrid, a mix of the watermint and the spearmint plants, now commonly grown in gardens across the globe today. It is a versatile plant that offers both flavor enhancement and traditional medicinal properties.
Peppermint or Mentha piperita is an herbal flowering plant that blooms over the summer months of July through September. Harvest occurs before the flowering buds start to develop, typically in July. It’s a hybrid plant that does not propagate from seed; instead, it regenerates itself from runners of the root system.
Peppermint plants will grow almost anywhere you put them, and in the United States, Oregon and Washington are the top growers.
Plant Powered Natural Production
The peppermint plant is a very productive herb, and one acre of plants can produce as much as 50 pounds of oil. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, consider the fact that one single 21-ounce bottle of peppermint oil is enough to flavor an entire ton of candy canes.
The oil from the peppermint plant is so potent that a single drop is usually more than enough to flavor a gallon of liquid. Peppermint oil is used in the production of many kinds of toothpaste, chewing gums, and mouthwashes – for its principal property, menthol. This same ingredient is a reason peppermint oil is used in medications and topical treatments.
Menthol causes a relaxation effect in muscles that aids in soothing the side effects of different ailments. Menthol activates cold-sensitive TRPM (Transient Receptor Potential cation channel subfamily M member 8 (TRPM8), also known as the cold and menthol receptor 1 (CMR1)8).
These receptors are present in the skin and mucosa tissue and are the primary source of the cooling sensation that follows the topical application of peppermint oil.
Peppermint for Stomachs
Some of the most common historical uses for peppermint oil extracts are gastric conditions and stomach upsets.
Many gastrointestinal conditions are more bearable with the use of peppermint oil in the form of tablets or teas. Ingesting the ingredient found in peppermint relaxes the muscles and stops cramping, nausea, and other side effects. This can offer the comfort of effects commonly seen in patients with IBS, stomach flu, and many others. It’s even been known to soothe menstrual cramps.
Who Shouldn’t Use Peppermint Oil?
There are few cases where the use of peppermint oil can make problems worse patients with GERD or other gastric reflux diseases should avoid the use of products containing peppermint oil that relax the esophagus and makes these conditions worse.
Avoid Peppermint During Pregnancy
Women who are pregnant are advised to avoid products containing peppermint oil due to its relaxing properties. Studies suggest that ingesting large doses may be dangerous during pregnancy, these are incomplete. You should always speak to your doctor before taking any supplements or vitamins.
Peppermint Oil for Headaches and Stress Tension
Peppermint oil is documented by scientific studies to reduce problems dramatically with topical applications to the forehead and temples. Never use any essential oils undiluted as they can cause irritation, rashes, or even burns. It is also used in herbal teas to alleviate stress.
Peppermint for Bad Breath
Many everyday breath products are made with peppermint oil. One of its abilities is to resolve stinky breath. Most commercial products are made with a minimal amount of extract and are entirely safe for use by healthy individuals.
Peppermint Has Many Uses
What’s your favorite use for peppermint? There are refreshing soaps, skin care, teas, peppermint supplements, and minty dental care. The list is endless of helpful herbal uses from this leafy green plant.